Heavy trucks move America’s economy. Millions of giant wheels are rolling on the highways across the country day and night to feed, dress, provide medical care and entertainment to the nation.

The hauling involves much more than moving goods from point A to point B. Haulers put their business at risk every day. When you are on the road carrying goods worth thousands of dollars, anything can happen.

That is why trucking companies purchase more than one insurance to keep their drivers, trucks, trailers, and cargo covered against a comprehensive portfolio of risks.

But what if one is driving a truck without a trailer? Well, in this particular case, you need to have the so-called bobtail insurance.

What Is Bobtail Insurance?

Bobtail or deadhead insurance gets you covered when you are driving your truck without a trailer. The very act of driving a heavy truck without a trailer attached is called bobtailing or deadheading.

Suppose a driver works under someone else’s trucking authority. In that case, the motor carrier’s or trucker’s liability insurance only protects the vehicle while the driver is under dispatch, and a trailer is attached to the truck.

If you need to drive your truck to point A to take a loaded trailer and haul it to point B, you need to have a valid bobtail insurance policy.

You need valid deadhead insurance if:

  • Whenever you drive a truck without a trailer
  • You want to stay protected from third-party claims or out-of-pocket expenses if a road accident occurs
  • You are a semi-owner operator, and your motor carrier requires you to have a valid bobtail insurance policy

Bobtail Liability Isn’t necessary if:

  • You never drive a truck without a trailer
  • If you have a valid insurance policy for non-business driving
  • If the primary liability is in your name and you own the truck

What Does The Bobtail Liability Cover?

I’d like to emphasize that deadhead insurance is a liability-only policy. This means that It covers you if you’re involved in or responsible for a road accident while driving a truck without a trailer under someone else’s trucking liability.

Your policy only covers liability-associated costs like attorney fees, court awards, first aid bills, medical treatment costs, and out-of-court settlement expenses.

You get involved in a road accident after you’ve delivered your cargo and you are driving to the base or picking another load.

  • You get involved in a road accident on your way to pick up your first load
  • You get involved in an accident on your way to the base from a delivery
  • Deadhead coverage applies when you drive your truck without its trailer to or from the terminal

Bobtail Liability Covers Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Liability

This means that a valid bobtail insurance policy also covers any damages to the other party’s vehicle that you caused with your truck while bobtailing, even if the other motorist is underinsured or completely uninsured.

What Is Not Covered By Your Bobtail Insurance?

You should remember that bobtail insurance does not cover any mechanical damage to the truck, losses, or injuries that you may suffer while driving your 18-wheeler without a trailer for purposes unrelated to haulage.   

How Much Does Bobtail Insurance Cost?

A bobtail insurance policy is generally inexpensive and costs between $20 and $50 per month. At the same time, the bobtail insurance limit often exceeds $1,000,000.  When you are calculating the cost of your bobtail insurance policy, you should consider the following factors:

 Driving history

During the underwriting process, insurers review the vehicle’s driving history to establish how often the truck is used without a trailer.

Claims history

Your bobtail insurance’s cost may go up a bit if your employer has a long history of filing incident-related insurance claims. The insurers also tend to offer lower premiums to haulers who’ve been in business for a long time.

By contrast, recently established freight businesses are considered a higher risk, and their truck fleet’s bobtail insurance policies are likely to cost more.

Business size

Usually, hauling businesses with large truck fleets are offered bobtail insurance discounts. The number of employees that a business owner has hired is also taken into account by the insurance companies. Haulers with a long payroll are considered more responsible and reliable.

Truckers’ driving records

If a hauler’s truck drivers have immaculate driving records, insurers are more likely to offer exclusive bobtail insurance rates to that business. By contrast, if the drivers’ records show a tendency

for reckless driving, their bobtail insurance premiums are likely to reflect their driving habits.

Specialized insurers offer lower rates

If you buy a bobtail insurance policy from an insurance broker specializing in that specific type of coverage, you may be offered promotional rates and more flexible insurance clauses. More often than not, bobtail insurance is paired with a Non-trucking Liability (NTL) policy.

When Applying, You’ll Need These Documents

When you apply for deadhead insurance with an insurer, make sure to have the following documents at hand:

  • Permanent lease agreement for more than one month
  • The year of manufacturing, the make, and the VIN of the truck
  • The driver’s full name and date of birth, as well as their driving license’s number
  • Loss Payee Information (for physical damages)
  • Proof of at least three years of trucking experience

Bobtail Insurance vs. Non-trucking Liability Insurance

When you are bobtailing to do a favor to a friend, and you aren’t under dispatch, then you need to have a valid Non-trucking liability (NTL) policy.

If an accident or damage occurs, the NTL insurance will meet the claim rather than the trucker’s primary motorist liability insurance. Due to its limited coverage, NTL usually costs less than a bobtail insurance policy.

NTL also covers damages to your big rig while the vehicle is undergoing scheduled or emergency repairs. While the non-tracking liability and the bobtail insurance complement each other, most trucking businesses required their drivers to have valid bobtail insurance because driving without a trailer under dispatch occurs very often.

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